So yesterday the mystery of the zebras still made me smile, and I saw in the paper that there was a talk on spirit houses that very afternoon. I headed for Soi 23 and the Rojana Dhamma Center for the answer to my questions.
Of zebras, there was no word, and the talk so fascinated me that I forgot to ask . The talk was instructive about so much more than toy zebras. The spirit houses are about those other dimensions we, be we Thai or other, have so many open or hidden beliefs about. To the Thai, there are spirits just about everywhere, and no matter their religion or lack thereof, they are animists at heart and take the spirit world very seriously. So that the spirit houses can be home to the spirit of ancestors, of land guardians , of gods or angels. The spirit houses are placed out of the shadows and if possible beside a tree to which they are symbolically tied with ribbons or fabric. Trees being conduits of power between heaven and earth. Gifts are brought, offerings and prayers are made. Spirit houses are built and taken care of with religious dedication.
What I found so interesting was the attitude of the Thai towards gift giving. The moment of giving is the gift, the rest looses importance and the gift has no value after that moment of giving.
The size of the spirit house reflects the spiritual need and reach. Large hotels and malls have enormous spirit houses. Homes have much smaller ones. Some are abandoned. Other cared for even after the owners move away or die.
The spirit houses are still somewhat mysterious to me, but I look at the spirit houses a little differently now that I understand a bit more about them.
It s a strange and dangerous thing but in Asia there are occasional holes in sidewalks. These are unmarked and unexpected and definitely dangerous. Not only could you fall in and possibly break something but often these holes are over sewage or some form of highly polluted , stinky water. So in Asia I carry a small lamp with me when I am walking in the evening and watch where I step!
I’m in Thailand, in Bangkok actually. I like Bangkok. It ‘s an amazing city of continuums. There is abject poverty all the way to ridiculous wealth. There are sad little booths under bridges and immense ultra modern malls. Condos are being built everywhere, boasting all the modern conveniences yet people still sleep on the street.
Women have dubious standing and yet they are fierce in business, highly educated, aggressive and knowledgeable.
I’ve been looking for a traditional puppet theatre which I know exists in this culture of gigantic movie theatres.
And the zebras… another surprising oddity.
Quiet and enjoyable afternoon drawing in the gardens at Raffles Hotel, Phnom Penh. I love palace hotels, and all beautiful buildings born of the human creative spirit. This gorgeous hotel was build in 1929. Gorgeous, peaceful gardens, details like beveled glass, elegant dining room and classy staff, the hotel is an ode to an era of elegant traveling!
Possibly the most iconic place in Phnom Penh for a writer, is the FCC, the Foreign Correspondant Club. It has been around since colonial days and has seen a lot of famous and not so famous journalists and other expats walk up the stairs to the bars. The food there, by the way, is delicious!
From the bar you can watch the promenade along the Tonle Sap, and the coming together of the two rivers, the Tonle Sap and the Mekong. Of course you can also sit and draw to your heart’s content!
There were so many wildly conflicing reports about Phu Quoc that at times I thought to skip it altogether. In the end, I took the plunge,made the arrangements and went adventuring. From CanTho I took a bus to Rach Gia and from there the Superdong 3 to Phu Quoc. I was very glad I went and Phu Quoc was everything they all said. I loved my stay . Although the resort was on the high side of affordable, I most enjoyed falling asleep and waking to the sound of the surf. I travelled with a very adventurous foodie and so was introduced to some very interesting Vietnamese dishes!
Eventually I decided to leave for the sake of my figure. Round the corner from the resort was à french artisan baker who made the most divine and irresistible croissants! I did not resist. Not a single day of my stay. When I left, I had 2 for the road in my bag!